AN indefinite strike shutting down all Go North East bus services will go ahead, after workers rejected a new pay offer.

Members of the Unite union have voted against accepting a proposed 10.3 per cent pay rise, which it called “insulting”.

It means that a continuous walkout by drivers, engineers, maintenance workers and depot crews is set to happen as planned, starting tomorrow [Saturday, October 28].

There have been warnings that the mass industrial action will cause “untold damage” for passengers who rely on Go North East buses and who have already endured two week-long strikes this month.

On Wednesday this week, Go North East announced that it had tabled a 10.3 per cent pay rise offer that would see drivers paid £14.15 an hour, alongside a guaranteed above-inflation pay increase next year too.

While the operator said the deal would make its drivers the best-remunerated in the region, Unite has complained that the average wage for a Go North West driver is £15.53 – a rate that the company’s latest offer failed to match.

In a ballot of Unite members working at the bus operator, 81 per cent rejected the offer on a turnout of 93 per cent.

Unite regional officer Mark Sanderson said: “We have repeatedly asked Go North East for a fair pay increase and again and again dragged their feet and refused to make a decent pay offer.

"We have drivers pushed to the brink of tiredness, working all hours God sends and skipping meals to make ends meet – yet their employer shows nothing but callous disregard for their wellbeing.

“Go North East have massively misread the strength of feeling from their workers on this issue and Unite will be backing them the whole way.”

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, who chairs the North East Joint Transport Committee, has been among those calling for a resolution to what has been a bitter pay dispute.

He warned that another crippling strike “would cause untold damage to local communities and create havoc for people’s daily lives”.

More to follow.